Book charts trials and tribulations of an Edinburgh bus photographer

The familiar 'madder' and white livery of Edinburgh's buses dates back to the days when Corporation double-deckers ferried the masses around the Capital.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 7:00 am
Services 27s during 2010 big freeze

From the Lothian Region Transport (LRT) era to the present day Lothian Buses, those colours have remained fairly constant. Today, however, a number of variations on that original ‘Corpie’ livery can be spotted if you look closely enough reveals public transport historian Richard Walter, who has been keeping a photographic record of the city's buses for the past 50 years.

This month, his latest book, Seeking the Perfect Location, a glossy new hard back delving into the trials and tribulations of life as a bus photographer, is published by Lavenham Press. Written and illustrated with more than 300 colour photographs, it is the sixth bus related book to be released by the 62-year-old.

‘This book is intended to be a guide to some of the best locations for bus photography in a few of my favourite places,' he writes in the introduction and naturally, one of those places is his home town, although the first two vehicles to feature don’t bear the usual colour scheme. Instead, one sports the garish orange of a First Scotland East Bright Bus Tour bus parked up at Our Dynamic Earth, while the other is a red London Routemaster, stationary in Bristo Square in 2011 as part of the Olympic torch tour.

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July 1995 and pop up LRT service 904 delvers visitors to the Tall Ships in Leith

Like so many images in the book they are snapshots of our ever changing Capital, a little piece of social history captured in the moment.

Walter, who was raised in Morningside and now lives in Musselburgh, reflects, “The benefit of including backgrounds in photos is that they can become useful for comparison in future years as places change and develop. But other memories can be triggered by specific photos. For instance, although we have had bad winters since, most people remember the big freeze of 2010 when traffic was brought to a standstill. There’s a selection of photos of buses stuck in the snow included in the book.

"The Tall Ships at Leith, the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1986 and the Centenary bus procession in 2019 are also memorable events. Photos which feature public transport taken at specific times remind people of where they were and what they were doing at that moment. Even some of the advertising on buses, especially the all over bus designs, jog memories."

Walter, whose other books include Lothian Buses: 100 Years and Beyond, started recording Edinburgh’s bus fleets while still at school and throughout his latest book he shares advice and tips to ensure you capture only the best shots.

Seeking the Perfect Location

He says, “Here are my Top 5 tips, all of which have helped me greatly. Make sure the sun is behind the camera and that none of the vehicle is in shadow. Ensure the subject is sharply in focus. Hold the camera straight, it’s amazing how the eye deceives and we end up taking pictures at an angle. Keep lamp posts and other such objects out of shot. Finally, watch out and listen for traffic at all times. Don't step onto the roadway. Always be safe.”

To order your copy of Seeking the Perfect Location, £28.25 including postage and packing, email [email protected] for payment details

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A London Routemaster brings the Coca Cola Olympic Torch Tour to Bristo Square in 2011
An Edinburgh tram lines up beside Lothian's half and half bus on sevice 33 at Shandwick Place
Lothian Buses rainbow Pride bus by night